Cape Town - Not the most popular man in South African soccer following on the country's failure to qualify for the forthcoming African Nations Cup Finals in Gabon, straight-talking, no-nonsense Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba has overnight gained a "Top of the Pops" rating among local soccer followers.
And this is not only because Bafana defied all the odds against highly-regarded Senegal in the key World Cup qualifying encounter at the Peter Mokaba Stadium last Saturday - albeit with the generous award of an outrageously blinkered penalty that enabled them to open the score in what was ultimately an admirable and gutsy 2-1 victory.
Paradoxically, Mashaba's outpouring of popularity is as much due to the fact that an out-of-step SAFA saw fit to suspend the Bafana coach immediately after the motivating triumph against "The Lions of Teranga" on the basis that he had "insulted" president Danny Jordaan and other officials immediately after the uplifting game in question.
Most pertinently it was an untimely reaction from SAFA, which CEO Denis Mumble claimed left him with no other alternative but to suspend Mashaba.
SAFA's reaction, in the circumstances, was more out of place than Mashaba's outburst in view of the fact that it tarnished much of the glitter of a golden moment in Bafana's history - and should have been withheld for the good of South African soccer and dealt with behind closed doors in a more diplomatic, if still forceful manner.
But this kind of SAFA bungling is nothing new. Neither is the embarrassing ego search of officials who were incensed that Mashaba could criticise them for their failure to suitably support him in recent stormy Bafana times - and question their right to share prominently in the kudos that were being handed out for beating Senegal.
Many, indeed , are suggesting the Polokwane fracas is simply an excuse for providing SAFA with a reason to dispense with the services of the Bafana coach.
And this may well be within their power if they so wish - but the power of the people is not with them and has ironically swung Mashaba's way.